He was the Greek. Fun, funny, and fun-loving and one to not take everything so serious. Yet he could be serious. We rode together from time to time and had been in the academy together. We would have taken bullets for each other.
I later left to finish college and attend seminary. I believed then and I believe now that was God's call upon my life. But the Greek had another journey. He would stay and retire in 1999. Active in his Greek Orthodox Parish, his community, and one who loved his family and his Toni, this man had many, many friends.
There is something about friends from a police department. Many of them stay friends through the years. I left in 1972 and for the past few years from time to time I get a call from these guys. One of the more expressive of them always asks, "Are you still preachin'?" And when I say yes, his answer is still the same, "Well I'll be damned." Of course, I am praying he won't be. That is why I'm still 'preachin'!
A few months ago one who called and gave me Toni's number and sad news. Her beloved "Rock", as he was nicknamed, was losing his battle with a malignant tumor in the brain. Glioma, I think they called it. I called him. He laughed, asked if I remembered a couple stories - one that he tells on me - and we shared a moment of history as we moved away from the present. A few weeks ago some of them got together one last time. Toni had said, "We are going to par-tay and celebrate!" What a trouper she has been. I talked to all them by phone and could sense the "Rock" was weakening.
Sgt. T. S. "Rock" Moraites slipped into eternity last Saturday.
I am grateful to God for the privilege of knowing this man and these many "pals" who have stayed together from that particular recruit class. I suppose if one hasn't "been there" it is difficult to understand why one such as myself, so far removed, would be so touched by infrequent contacts from some of them.
Many of them will gather this Thursday to remember a life well lived and support a grieving family. I wish I could attend the funeral but I cannot. But I can pray for the family and I will.
I will remember a pal no longer here. And I will thank God for those remaining. Pals, as the movie character Billy the Kid says. But these pals, my pals, are on the right side of Law and Order. God bless them every one.